Many manufacturers now offer dedicated products tailored for the distinctive workflows involved in podcasting and live streaming.
It’s possible to record a podcast with just about any audio interface and DAW software, but podcasters and streamers often have specific needs that mean such setups can get in the way. The requirement to incorporate audio from multiple other apps, facilitate phone calls, and trigger sound effects or jingles for live shows, for example, can quickly lead to convoluted combinations of gear and software that take the attention away from the task at hand. So there’s a lot to be said for having a single device that can handle all of the routing, mixing and monitoring duties, whilst providing quick, hands‑on control over a show. And if it can also record standalone, with no need for a computer, that can make the session even easier.
There’s a lot to be said for having a single device that can handle all of the routing, mixing and monitoring duties, whilst providing quick, hands‑on control over a show.
This month, we shine our Spotlight on a selection of devices that aim to provide podcasters with all they need in a single box.
Boss’s Gigcaster 8 has been designed specifically for content creators and live streamers, combining all of the essential features into a single device that can act as an audio interface or standalone recorder. Four XLR/TRS combi inputs offer connectivity for mic‑ and line‑level sources, and are joined by dedicated stereo line‑level, Bluetooth and USB audio channels, whilst the front panel also hosts a high‑impedance instrument input. There are eight sound pads with eight banks, providing quick access to up to 64 sound effects, jingles and so on. Four headphone outputs are provided, but although they have their own volume controls, they all share the same main mix signal. Dedicated faders for every input source offer plenty of hands‑on control, with metering and more in‑depth parameter control provided by a touchscreen.
The device boasts a range of onboard processing options, including compression, pitch‑correction, delay and reverb, as well as several amp simulation and guitar effects ported from the company’s flagship GT‑1000 effects processor. There is also a library loaded with pre‑configured processing chains optimised for dialogue, vocals, guitars and bass. As for recording, the Gigcaster 8 can function as a 20‑in/14‑out USB interface, or record 32‑bit/48kHz stereo or multitrack files to a micro‑SD card.
£604 including VAT.$699.99
Donner Music’s PC‑02 comes equipped with four inputs that will accept mic or line‑level sources via XLR/TRS combi sockets, and four independent headphone outputs, as well as 3.5mm TRS stereo I/O. Nine sound pads with three banks can be used to trigger (and loop) sound effects, but can also be programmed to act as shortcuts to a range of parameters. In addition to the wired connectivity, there is also built‑in Bluetooth for streaming audio from mobile devices. A range of onboard effects and processors are provided, including compression, noise gates, de‑essers, EQ, reverb, delay and pitch‑based effects.
There are five motorised faders, offering hands‑on and recallable level control for the inputs and sound pads, and all headphone output volumes can be controlled directly from the top panel, too. The PC‑02 can record directly to a micro‑SD card, or function as a USB audio interface. For those looking for a more compact alternative, the company also offer the Podcast Equipment Bundle, which couples their smaller Podcard device — which offers two main inputs instead of four — with a microphone. The Podcard is equipped with shorter, non‑motorised faders, and provides its I/O on a mixture of quarter‑inch and 3.5mm TRS sockets. It omits the standalone recording and phantom power facilities of the PC‑02, but still features sound pads and a range of built‑in effects.
PC‑02 $599.99. Podcast Equipment Bundle $233.99.PC‑02 $599.99. Podcast Equipment Bundle $233.99.
Focusrite’s Vocaster offerings differ slightly in that they more closely resemble a traditional audio interface. However, they’ve still been designed specifically for podcast production, and manage to pack a lot of useful features into their compact design. The Vocaster One, as its name suggests, is a single‑channel device aimed at solo recording, whilst the Vocaster Two offers a pair of mic inputs and headphone outputs. Both offer front‑panel access to mic and headphone level controls, as well as mute functions, a voice enhancement feature, and an Auto Gain feature that ensures the mic signals are set to an optimum level.
The included Vocaster Hub software provides key features such as loopback, allowing audio from other applications to be mixed into the device’s output, and deeper control over the processing applied by the enhancement feature. TRRS and Bluetooth connectivity also provide wired and wireless phone call integration.
Vocaster One £189.99. Vocaster Two £289.99. Prices include VAT.Vocaster One $149.99. Vocaster Two $249.99.
Lewitt Audio’s Connect 6 is another compact desktop interface with several features aimed squarely at podcasters. It’s equipped with a pair of mic preamps and two independent headphone outputs, and both input channels will also accept line‑level sources, whilst an additional stereo line‑level input is provided on a 3.5mm TRS socket. The gain for both main inputs, along with the main and headphone output levels, can be controlled directly from a rotary encoder on the top panel.
Phone connectivity is catered for via USB‑C, allowing a mobile device to act as an additional stereo input and output. The included Control Centre software takes care of all of the device’s routing and includes a loopback function for capturing audio from another computer application. Onboard DSP then offers four‑band EQ, compressor, expander and maximiser processors, which can be used in the recording or monitor path with no load on the host computer’s CPU.
£259 including VAT.$299.
Combining a large touchscreen with a set of physical encoders, faders and buttons, Mackie’s DLZ Creator aims to provide users with an intuitive mixer and recorder that offers all the features essential to creating a podcast. Four channels are equipped with XLR/TRS combi sockets that will accept mic, line‑level or instrument sources, and utilise the company’s Onyx80 preamps to provide up to 80dB of gain — so you won’t need a Cloudlifter! Two stereo channels follow, offering dual quarter‑inch TRS and 3.5mm TRS line‑level connections, and there is also a stereo bi‑directional Bluetooth channel. Six sound pads are present for triggering loaded audio files, and users can also record their own using the DLZ’s inputs. Four individual headphone outputs are provided, each benefiting from its own independent mix.
Onboard processing options include three‑band parametric EQ and a high‑pass filter, along with compression, de‑essing, noise gating, reverb and delay, all of which can be adjusted using the touchscreen and encoders. To cater to users of all experience levels, the device can be used in three modes: Easy, Enhanced or Pro. The first two modes offer simplified interfaces which provide just the essential recording tools, whilst Pro mode affords users more detailed control over the device’s setup and routing.
Dedicated faders along with mute and cue functions are available for every input source, including the built‑in sound pads. There is also an Auto Mix feature which will lower channels when no input signal is present, as well as automatically adjusting levels to maintain a consistent output. The DLZ Creator can function as a 14‑in/4‑out USB audio interface, as well as recording multitrack files to either a micro‑SD card or USB storage device.
£769 including VAT.$799.
Rode’s flagship podcasting station, the RodeCaster Pro II, can record a stereo mix or multitrack files to a micro‑SD card or USB storage device. It also features two USB‑C connectors, which allow it to stream audio to two separate computers or mobile devices simultaneously. It features four analogue inputs capable of accepting mic, instrument or line‑level sources via XLR/TRS combi sockets, along with four independent headphone outputs on quarter‑inch TRS sockets. Each of the inputs can supply up to 76dB of gain, and along with its analogue connectivity, the device also boasts onboard Bluetooth for phone call integration and built‑in wireless connectivity for the company’s Series IV transmitters such as the Wireless Go II and Wireless ME.
There are eight RGB‑backlit SMART pads, which, in addition to triggering audio files, can also be used for several other tasks, including applying effects to the input signals, sending MIDI commands to external software applications, and activating automated mixer actions such as fade‑ins/outs. Up to eight banks of pad functions can be configured, allowing users to store up to 64 actions.
A touchscreen paired with a multi‑function rotary encoder offers control over all of the device’s functionality, and plenty of onboard sound‑shaping is available, with Aphex processing powering emulations of hardware devices and offering a high‑pass filter, de‑esser, noise gate, compressor and three‑band EQ for every channel.
The smaller RodeCaster Duo offers much of the same functionality but with fewer channels and in a smaller footprint. There are two analogue inputs and two headphone outputs, four physical faders and six SMART pads, as well as the same touchscreen and rotary encoder‑based interface. The virtual fader count remains the same, as does the wireless connectivity, onboard processing and recording destination options, and the device also gains a TRRS connection for wired headset connectivity.
Rode RodeCaster Pro II £699. RodeCaster Duo £569. Prices include VAT. Rode RodeCaster Pro II $699. RodeCaster Duo $499.
Tascam are no strangers to all‑in‑one recording devices, having brought multitrack recording to the masses with their Portastudio range in 1979. Aimed squarely at podcasters, the Mixcast 4 can record multitrack files directly to an SD card, or act as a 14‑in/2‑out USB audio interface. It features four microphone inputs and four headphone outputs, along with dedicated USB, line‑level (dual quarter‑inch TRS or 3.5mm TRRS) and Bluetooth inputs. The all‑important mix‑minus functionality is available for use during call‑ins. Eight sound pads with eight banks allow users to trigger sound effects and apply effects to input sources; it’s also possible to record sounds for the pads on the unit itself. Eight faders provide hands‑on level control over all of the inputs and the sound pads.
There are generous onboard processing options, too. The mic channels all benefit from two‑band semi‑parametric EQ, compressor, de‑esser, noise suppressor and reverb processors, many of which offer simplified automatic settings for less experienced users as well as more in‑depth manual parameters. And the USB, TRRS and Bluetooth channels are equipped with a de‑esser, noise suppressor and simple Talk or Music enhancer settings.
Interestingly, the Mixcast 4 comes with its own Tascam Podcast Editor software package, which is essentially a simplified DAW designed specifically for the device, allowing users to make and edit multitrack recordings without the need for any other software.
£574.99 including VAT$399.
Although designed primarily for live streaming, Yamaha’s AG‑08 is kitted out with plenty of features that suit podcasters, too. There’s no SD card or storage device support, so the actual recording does need to be carried out on a computer or mobile device via USB, but the AG‑08 comes with licences for Steinberg’s Cubase AI and WaveLab Cast to cater for that side of things, and can also be used with the free Cubasis LE iOS app.
Most things can be controlled using the hardware. Faders and mute controls are provided for every channel, and the first channel also features hands‑on control over some key effects parameters. Two mic preamps with gain knobs are joined by a pair of independent headphone outputs with hardware mix‑minus switches. Three stereo channels follow, which can be switched between line‑level inputs (the last is equipped with a TRRS input/output for wired phone call connectivity) and USB audio. Both mic channels will also happily accept line‑level sources, and the second offers a high‑impedance instrument input, which benefits from an onboard amp simulator.
There’s a range of onboard DSP effects, including compression, EQ, reverb and delay, and a ducker function can be used to automatically attenuate the stereo playback channels when mic signals are present. A dedicated control app provides deeper access to the various effect and routing parameters. A set of six sound pads can be used to trigger user‑loaded samples, and it’s possible to capture samples directly from the device’s inputs.
£738 including VAT.$535.99
Designed to handle even the most ambitious podcast projects, Zoom’s PodTrak P8 can record a stereo mix or multitracks to an SD card, or act as a 2‑in/2‑out USB audio interface for recording the stereo mix to a computer. For use outside of the studio, the P8 can operate using four AA batteries for up to 1.5 hours. It boasts six mic preamps with XLR inputs that offer up to 70dB of gain and switchable phantom power, as well as six independent headphone outputs. Nine sound pads with four banks make it possible to quickly trigger up to 36 sound effects, jingles, pre‑recorded elements and so on. A 3.5mm TRRS input is provided for recording phone calls, and channel six can be switched to a USB mode to allow guests to be recorded via a connected computer. Importantly, both options offer a mix‑minus feature to prevent feedback and echoes.
Eight hardware faders are joined by a touchscreen interface, which, in addition to providing channel gain and processing options, can be used to configure the device’s routing and carry out some onboard editing. Each microphone channel benefits from a high‑pass filter, a simple tone adjustment, a compressor/de‑esser and a noise reduction feature.
The P8’s smaller sibling, the PodTrak P4, is an even more portable package, with four of the same mic preamps and headphone outputs in a device the size of your average field recorder. Rotary controls replace the faders, and the TRRS/USB connections share a channel with mic inputs 3+4. There are still four dedicated hardware buttons for triggering sound effects, the level of which can be set via another rotary control.
The PodTraks aren’t Zoom’s only podcast‑oriented devices, though. Their LiveTrak digital mixers offer plenty for the prospective podcaster, but also open the door to a broad range of live sound and recording tasks. The LiveTrak L‑8, in particular, should be an attractive all‑in‑one solution for many creators.
The eight input channels all accept line‑level inputs, but the first six are also equipped with mic preamps and channels 1 and 2 also feature a high‑impedance instrument input, whilst 7 and 8 can also receive a stereo input via USB, control the level of a set of built‑in sound pads or be combined to facilitate phone calls using a 3.5mm TRRS socket. Four headphone outputs are provided, three of which can monitor either the main mix or their own dedicated secondary mix. EQ is available for every channel and can be controlled from a set of hardware encoders, along with each channel’s panning and external effect send levels.
As well as acting as a multi‑channel USB interface, the L‑8 can serve as a standalone multitrack recorder, capturing 24‑bit files at 44.1, 48 or 96 kHz to an SD card. For completely ‘off‑grid’ recordings, the mixer can also operate for up to 1.5 hours on four AA batteries, or be powered by a USB power bank.
PodTrak P8 £379. PodTrak P4 £214.80. LiveTrak L‑8 £526.80. Prices include VAT.PodTrak P8 $549.99. PodTrak P4 $149.99. LiveTrak L‑8 $449.99.